The EcoPlanet Bamboo story took a strange turn last week when EcoPlanet Bamboo responded to the posts on REDD-Monitor about the company’s investment scheme in “bamboo bonds”. First we’ll look at the story so far, followed by EcoPlanet Bamboo’s ad hominem response.
I’ve written three posts about EcoPlanet Bamboo. The company runs bamboo plantations in Nicaragua, South Africa and Ghana. A UK company called EcoPlanet Bamboo (UK) Ltd sold “bamboo bonds”, with a promise of a “a 500% return on investment over a 15 year period”. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
The bonds were sold to retail investors by a range of companies, including Property Frontiers, Knight Emerald, and Grosvenor Park Intelligent Investments.
People investing in the bond paid their money to Citadel Trustees, a company that has appeared several times on REDD-Monitor. The Daily Mail’s Tony Hetherington wrote about Citadel Trustees in 2012, and again in 2015. The company has since been renamed Highpoint Trustees. The company’s website has not been available for two weeks, and REDD-Monitor has been informed that the company is going into liquidation.
One of investments that Citadel Trustees got involved with is Global Forestry Investments, that raised money from retail investors for its teak tree plantations in Brazil, offering returns of 10-20% per year. In 2015, the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Global Forestry Investments.
Here are links to the three posts on REDD-Monitor about EcoPlanet Bamboo:
EcoPlanet Bamboo’s response
On 9 December 2016, someone calling themselves “A concerned investor” left a comment on REDD-Monitor:
It is funny how Troy Wiseman, tries to discredit your website on Ecoplanet Bamboo’s Facebook page, as if the evidence you are presenting in your blogs are not overwhelming enough. Evidence that is supported with company reports, videos and newsletters.
So, I looked up EcoPlanet Bamboo’s Facebook page, where I found this (the graphic is a particularly nice touch):
The Facebook post linked to a website: www.bamboobond.co.uk. The website was registered on 5 November 2016 in the name of Ecoplanet Group, by a UK individual who gave EcoPlanet Bamboo’s address in Barrington, Illinois, USA.
The website includes a page about REDD-Monitor full of made up facts.
While www.bamboobond.co.uk makes no attempt to correct any specific mistakes in REDD-Monitor’s posts about EcoPlanet Bamboo, here’s what EcoPlanet Bamboo got wrong about me:
- “Chris Lang, a UK citizen with a criminal background”
True, I am a UK citizen. And I have been arrested on demonstrations against destructive logging and imports of unsustainable tropical timber to the UK. In the early 1990s, I protested against the UK government’s proposed road construction plans, and was arrested several times during protests trying to stop the destruction of Twyford Down. If any of that gives me a “criminal background”, then it’s one that I’m proud of.
- “has spent almost a decade building a niche for himself through blindly attacking forest based projects and industries”
Actually, I’ve spent more than two decades writing about forests, indigenous peoples, and destructive forest projects. My articles, reports and book chapters are collected here. None of this work involved “blindly attacking” anything.
- “no tangible professional experience or expertise within any of the industries or arenas he has chosen to write about”
Apparently an MSc in Forestry from Oxford University doesn’t count. Oh well.
- “Chris Lang’s first target was the global pulp industry, although after a series of successful law suits against, him this line of attack stopped in 2012”
I have written lots about the problems created by the pulp and paper industry globally, with a particular focus on the social and environmental impacts of industrial tree plantations. However, I have never faced a law suit from any of the companies I’ve written about.
- “backed by a team of poorly paid SEO workers in India and Bangladesh”
I have never hired anyone to work on search engine optimisation in India, Bangladesh, or anywhere else.
- REDD-Monitor “has become somewhat of a joke in legitimate forest circles”
EcoPlanet Bamboo must have an interesting definition of “legitimate forest circles”. Unless they are talking about Forest Trends, of course, which in 2014 wrote up a gushing interview with Troy Wiseman, EcoPlanet Bamboo’s CEO and co-founder (and shortly afterwards reposted an opinion piece by Wiseman). Forest Trends promotes carbon trading, whereas I argue that trading the carbon stored in forests would address neither climate change nor the ongoing destruction of the world’s forests.
- “Indonesia provides the perfect location for this pseudo ‘writer’, able to escape from defamation, fraud and other legal suits resulting from his mode of operation”
Indonesia has pretty nasty defamation laws. I’ve never faced any legal suits (apart from when the UK government tried to sue me and more than 70 other anti-road protesters at Twyford Down for £1 million – the government lost).
- “Much information on Chris Lang’s dubious past as well as the fraudulent nature of the REDD Monitor site are widely available”:
I have written a series of posts on REDD-Monitor about investment scams offered by boiler rooms mainly operating out of London. Shortly after I wrote about the Capital Alternatives network of scam companies, a series of anonymous posts appeared on the internet falsely claiming that I was running an investment scam. I do not run any investment schemes, or provide advice on where people should invest their money.
- “More recently Chris Lang has begun additional sites, including ‘Illegal Deforestation Monitor’ only this time keeping himself confidential”
I was not involved in setting up the website Illegal Deforestation Monitor, and have written nothing on the website. Obviously looking up the “About” page was too much effort for EcoPlanet Bamboo.
- “In October 2016 Chris Lang decided to target EcoPlanet Bamboo with a series of poorly researched and badly patched together articles attempting to discredit the company and indicate that shareholders had been ‘bamboozled’”:
If there are any factual errors in anything I’ve written about EcoPlanet Bamboo, I would be happy to correct the articles. In fact, my main sources of information were letters from EcoPlanet Bamboo, Highpoint Trustees, and The Eco Resources Fund, which are reproduced in full in the posts on REDD-Monitor.
- “In addition Chris Lang and his team at REDD Monitor made a number of direct blackmail threats”
I have never threatened anyone with blackmail. There is no REDD-Monitor “team”.
- “EcoPlanet Bamboo has had no direct contact or interaction with Chris Lang or REDD Monitor”
True. Which leaves an interesting question: How am I supposed to have threatened blackmail without having contacted EcoPlanet Bamboo?
The page about REDD-Monitor on www.bamboobond.co.uk ends with three anonymous quotations: